Category: Top News Stories

Paid Sick Days Vote, 2/15

Paid Sick Days Vote, 2/15

The Travis County Democratic Party’s County Executive Committee adopted a resolution back in October, one endorsing universal paid sick days for employees.

This resolution was adopted with widespread support from all parts of Travis County. It sends a clear message: the Party stands with the people.

On February 15th, the Austin City Council will be meeting to vote on City ordinances regarding paid sick days. Please contact your City Council members and let them know you stand with labor and support paid sick days!

Full Text:
Adopted Paid Sick Days Resolution

Travis County Democratic Party
Resolution on Endorsing Paid Sick Time Policy

WHEREAS, Most workers in the city of Austin will at some time during each year need limited time off
from work to take care of their own health needs or the health needs of their family members; and,

WHEREAS, Earning paid sick time can have a positive effect on individuals and the public health of
Austinites by allowing workers a limited number of hours per year to care for themselves or a close
family member when illness strikes or medical needs arise; and,

WHEREAS, Providing workers time off for health or safety purposes can guarantee a healthier and more
productive workforce in Austin; and,

WHEREAS, Earning paid sick time can reduce recovery time, promote the use of regular medical
providers rather than hospital emergency departments, and reduce the likelihood of people spreading
illness to other members of the workforce and to the public; and,

WHEREAS, Access to paid sick time can also help decrease the likelihood that a worker will put off
needed care, and can reduce healthcare expenditures and increase the rates of preventive care among
workers and their children; and,

WHEREAS, Low-income workers are significantly less likely to have paid sick time than other members
of the workforce; and,

WHEREAS, In a study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, approximately 37% of
workers in the city of Austin lack paid sick time; and,

WHEREAS, According to that same study, up to 70% of workers go without access to paid sick time in
jobs that require frequent contact with the public, like food preparation and personal care occupations,
which has important public health implications due to risk of contagion; and,

WHEREAS, Latino and Black workers in Austin are less likely to have paid sick time than workers in any
other racial or ethnic group, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research; and,

WHEREAS, People without paid sick time are 1.5 times more likely than people with paid sick time to go
to work with a contagious illness like the flu; and,

WHEREAS, According to the Public Welfare Foundation, parents who don’t have paid sick time are more
than twice as likely as parents with paid sick time to send a sick child to school or daycare, and five
times as likely to report taking their child or a family member to a hospital emergency room because
they were unable to take time off work during their regular work hours; and,

WHEREAS, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention found that workers with access to paid sick time were 28 percent less likely than
workers without access to paid sick time to be injured on the job; and,

WHEREAS, Many workers need time away from their jobs to care for their health after incidents
regarding sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner violence, and or to
find solutions, such as a restraining order or new housing, to avoid or prevent physical or sexual abuse;
and,

WHEREAS, Survivors of domestic and sexual violence are often forced to lose days of paid employment
because of the violence they face; and,

WHEREAS, Paid sick time results in reduced worker turnover, which leads to reduced costs incurred
from advertising, interviewing and training new hires. Replacing workers can cost approximately 21%
of an employee’s annual compensation; and,

WHEREAS, 36 cities and 7 states have passed paid sick policies; and,

WHEREAS, According to a study conducted by the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy, 160
countries in the world guarantee their residents a continued income when they’re ill; and,

WHEREAS, The Democratic National Committee Party Platform includes supporting working families
through a commitment to “fight to allow workers the right to earn at least seven days of paid sick leave”;
and,

WHEREAS, The Work Strong Austin coalition, a group of local nonprofits and small business owners,
have conducted needs assessments, policy research, interviews with other cities and stakeholders, and
held meetings since 2015 to advance the opportunity for Austinites to have access to paid sick time; and,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Travis County Democratic Party strongly supports earned
paid sick days for all workers; and,

FURTHERMORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Travis County Democratic Party calls for the City of Austin to
institute laws and rules mandating paid sick leave for all employees in the city; that this includes hourly
workers and individual subcontractors; and be it a provision in all contracts for labor the City of Austin
signs; and,

FURTHERMORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Travis County Democratic Party supports the Work Strong
Austin coalition in efforts to ensure a robust policy for private employers in Austin that is universal,
covering all types of workers and employers, and provides a variety of allowable uses, such as tending to an
ongoing medical condition, seeking preventative care, providing care for a family member or dependent,
and providing safe time to deal with a domestic violence or sexual assault incident; and,

FURTHERMORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Travis County Democratic Party encourages its precinct
chairs and members to participate in the City of Austin public stakeholder process to provide feedback
consistent with this resolution on the elements of a paid sick days policy.

Get our State of the Union Bingo Card!

Get our State of the Union Bingo Card!

Download your Bingo Card Here!

Will you be watching Trump’s first State of the Union tomorrow?

Well do it with our Bingo Card!

We are never sure what 45 might say in his speech, we have heard enough of his banter to know we’ll be in for wild, and probably inflammatory, ride. Who will he insult and how will he embarrass himself this time?

Share with your friends to make the State of the Union as entertaining as possible.

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Harvey Resources

Hurricane Harvey Resources

 

Hurricane Harvey Resources

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been affected by the events of this weekend. This has caused an unimaginable amount of destruction and heartache across our great state. Though the rain may have stopped in Austin, many areas in Texas and Louisiana are still seeing large amounts of rain. If you are able, there are many organizations on the ground actively helping those affected by the storm that could use your help.

If you or anyone needs any assistance, the state Texas Democratic Party has created a resource page with hurricane relief and assistance information as well as an FAQ.

Here are some charities that desperately need your help:
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
Blood donations for the Red Cross

Red Cross volunteers
Red Cross donations
Austin Pets Alive! needs long-term foster homes
Austin Diaper Bank
Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team

Stay safe out there Texans. Our thoughts are with you!

Ruling On President Obama’s Executive Action On Immigration

Ruling On President Obama’s Executive Action On Immigration

Dear Democrats,

For exactly 100 days, the intransigent, GOP-led Senate has not given President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee an up or down vote and our undocumented immigrant friends and loved ones are suffering for it.

We were heartbroken to find out this morning that the Supreme Court voted 4-4 on President Obama’s executive action on immigration. This tie vote upholds the lower court’s decision and puts on hold Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DAPA and expanded DACA).

President Obama was trying to lend a hand to our undocumented brothers and sisters, who work hard, already pay taxes and are vulnerable to exploitation by giving more that 4 million undocumented immigrants in our nation deferred action.

This case will continue to be litigated and by the time is it finished we need to ensure that there will still be a Democrat in the White House, a new Senate Democratic Majority and ninth member of Supreme Court. And we need your hard work to make that happen.

Today, join local immigrant rights activists, including Workers Defense Project, at an immigration rally at 7 PM, in front of the Governor’s Mansion at 1010 Colorado St, just southwest of the Capitol.

Sincerely,

Carisa Lopez, Coordinated Campaign Manager
Travis County Democratic Party

County Convention March 19th

County Convention March 19th

All precinct level activities will be held at the County Convention on March 19th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (208 Barton Springs Rd.). If you would like to become a delegate to the state convention, or try to become a national delegate, you must attend the county convention.

You may preregister online at:
http://Register.txdemocrats.org

Registration will open at 8 a.m.
The Convention will be called to order at 10 a.m.

See you there!

Schedule

8:00 AM Registration Begins

9:00 AM Informal caucus meetings

10:00 AM Convention business begins

10:25 AM Elected officials and candidates give remarks with Mayor Adler, Rep. Doggett, Hon

Elfant, Rep. Howard, and Hon. Ortega Carter. Candidates Hernandez, Holmes, Jordan, Moore, Needles, Soifer, and Urrutia.

11:20 AM Caucus leaders give brief remarks

11:50 AM Senator Kirk Watson Speech

12:00 PM Credentials Committee presents report

12:05 PM Precinct conventions

               Peterson Brothers Musical Performance

1:00 PM Community Conversation on Economic Empowerment with Union Leader Chu, CM

Garza, Rep. Howard, CC Shea, and ACC Trustee Richard.

2:00 PM HD 49 speeches with Sen. Barrientos, Rep. Naishtat, and Hon. Gina Hinojosa

2:25 PM Former MPT Sheryl Cole Speech

2:30 PM Chair Harding discusses upcoming TNC city election

2:35 PM Presidential election discussion with Garry Mauro and Jim Hightower

3:00 PM Caucus meetings/Voter deputation

4:00 PM Nominations and Resolutions committees give reports

Caucus and SD Convention Schedule

Time Group Room
9:00 Youth Big Bend D
9:00 Asian American Big Bend C
9:00 Rules Committee Big Bend A
9:00 Stonewall Hill Country A-B
9:00 Tejano Democrats Hill Country C-D
9:00 Black Austin Democrats Big Bend B
10:00 Resolutions Committee Big Bend B
11:00 Credentials Committee Big Bend A
General Session Zilker
12:00 SD 21 Hill Country C-D
SD 24 Big Bend C-D
SD 25 Hill Country A-B
SD 14 Zilker
1:00 Nominations Big Bend A
1:00 Resolutions Big Bend B
1:00 General Session Zilker
3:00 Youth Hill Country C-D
3:00 Asian American Hill Country A-B
3:00 VDR ZIlker

Parking information: Valet parking will available for $15 and garage parking will be available at the Hyatt for $6, once the garage is full attendees will be directed to park at a local city garage nearby. However, we encourage attendees to use public transportation. You can find information about bus schedules and routes on the Capital Metro website.

Deputization link: We will be hosting a voter deputization event at the convention at 3:00 PM. Please sign up ahead of time if you wish to attend.

Food: Food will be available for purchase all day at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

“Mock Mass Shooting” is Offensive and Dangerous

Austin, TX — A gun rights group has said they are preparing to stage a “mock mass shooting” in opposition to gun-free zones on Saturday, December 12th. The group plans to use cardboard weapons, fake blood and gunshot noises, and will have actors playing various roles including that of the “rescuers,” who will likely represent armed citizens. The group has not sought any sort of permission from the city of Austin or the University of Texas at this time, and has stated it believes that the San Bernardino and Paris massacres were able to occur because citizens were not armed.

TCDP Chair Vincent Harding had this to say about the upcoming demonstration:

“I believe this mock mass shooting, which is planned in opposition to gun-free zones, is inappropriate and highly insensitive to the families and victims of past shootings. While I recognize the rights of special interest groups to represent their viewpoints, attention-seeking actions like this one do nothing but replace intelligent debate with an offensive spectacle.

We stand with the overwhelming number of faculty who have called for the campus to remain gun free and urge the participants not to go through with this demonstration on campus or on public property.”

The Travis County Democratic Party Celebrates Marriage Equality in Texas!

The Travis County Democratic Party Celebrates Marriage Equality in Texas!

It was on Wednesday, February 26, 2012, when U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia ruled that the Texas ban on same-sex marriage was “state-imposed inequality.”  And while there is still much work to be done towards making same-sex marriage a reality, upon hearing this historic decision, the TCDP quickly mobilized and gathered with hundreds of supporters at the Brass House at 5p.m. that same day, holding a news conference in order to reiterate support of Judge Garcia’s ruling and their position for marriage equality in Texas to be legal. Congratulations Democrats!

This party segued into another “first” over at the Belmont…

Celebration was on tap for the TCDP that same night. After the news conference, it was Battleground Texas’ turn, celebrating their one year birthday as an organization who fights to turn Texas “blue.” Standing side-by-side with Battleground, the TCDP listened to speakers invited to the event such as Senator Kirk Watson and Rep. Celia Israel, recent victor of the special race in House District 50. Congratulations Battleground!

What a night!!

Kirk Watson speaking at the Brass House

 

Rally Today at 5:00 to Celebrate Today’s Historic Decision!

Rally Today at 5:00 to Celebrate Today’s Historic Decision!

Marriage victory in Texas

Dear Travis County Democrats,

It’s an exciting and historic day in the struggle for marriage equality in Texas: U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia has ruled that Texas’s ban on same-sex marriages is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!  While Judge Garcia stayed the decision and same sex couples cannot yet get married in Texas, this is a major step forward!

Please join the Travis County Democratic Party, Texas Democratic Party, Equality Texas, Stonewall Democrats of Austin, and many more allies for a rally and press conference TODAY at 5 p.m., at the Brass House, located in downtown Austin at 115 San Jacinto Blvd. Please note this is a change in location due to the weather.

You can find more information about the rally and RSVP here.

I hope you will celebrate with us today; together, let’s keep Texas moving forward!

Sincerely,
Jan-signature-email
Jan Soifer, Chairwoman
Travis County Democratic Party

 

The Texas GOP’s New War on Women

     Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asked for an additional $300 million in border security and “five hundred extra ‘troopers’ along the Border,” according to an article written in the Austin American Statesman.  He also equates corruption in South Texas to “…third world country practices that erode the social fabric of our communities and destroy Texans’ trust and confidence in government”   Abbott goes on to say, “We must do more to protect our border going beyond sporadic surges.  I’ll add more boots on the ground, more assets in the air and on the water, and deploy more technology and tools for added surveillance” (Burnt Orange Report).   Here is my concern: Abbott’s war-cry rhetoric for more militarization along the border, or what is now referred to as “Low Intensity Conflict (LIC)” status, will exacerbate the dangers immigrant women already face along our Texas border, particularly in South Texas.

     First, let me explain what “Low Intensity Conflict” means and how it affects collective thinking. Developed during the Reagan Administration, and rooted in “counterinsurgency” term after the Cuban Revolution, the doctrine of the “LIC” was created to “Employ force in a global crusade against Third World revolutionary movements and governments.” (Klare and Kornbluh, Low Intensity Warfare: The New Interventionism).  According to sociologist, Timothy Dunn, this meant that the United States could use “subtle forms of militarization” to invade Third World counties, such as Central American countries in order to fight against their guerilla forces and “targeted civilian populations” in an attempt to prevent, what the doctrine states, as some form of Soviet-style, creeping communism or revolutions deemed harmful to the United States. However, this concept of fighting Third World regimes is creeping into the minds of our Texas leaders, especially when it is their own state they are defending against.  Dunn draws similarities between the “wars” fought in other countries, to the supposed “war” along the border.

Domestically, it started with the “War on Drugs” which morphed to the “War on Terror,” only to marry and produce a “war” along the U.S. Mexico Border against, what the GOP believes, are ‘insurgent’ immigrants. Some say the practice is already here especially since the INS (renamed “US Citizenship and Immigration Services”) has been classified, first under the Department of Justice from the Department of Labor, in 1940, to the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.  According to a 2006 article, “What the War on Terror Has Done to Texas,”

 In 1986, President Reagan issued a directive designating illegal drug traffic as a threat to U.S. “national security,” which permitted the Department of Defense to enter a range of “anti-drug” activity, including on the border. Even before that, in 1981 Congress passed amendments that diluted the strength of the 100-year-old Posse Comitatus Act, which had strictly prohibited deputizing military to carry out domestic law enforcement. The Pentagon’s Center for the Study of Low Intensity Conflict helped design the Border Patrol’s “Strategic Plan: 1994 and Beyond,” devoted almost entirely to immigration control.

Also, in the 1990’s, the definition of “national security” was extended to include, “domestic political concerns and perceived threats to culture, social stability, environmental degradation, and population growth” (Falcón, INCITE!).

According to political scientist and researcher, Tony Payan:

In a new study, The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration, and Homeland Security, Payan suggests that the “real failure” of 9/11 was the lack of intelligence coordination to detect and apprehend potential terrorists entering anywhere. Mexican border security became a special focus, with law enforcement redefined as a matter of national security. The focus carries hostility not only to crossers but those who live in the area, “an escalation that has not paid off” because workers and drugs are coming at the same rate as five years ago. What has changed toward undocumented workers since 9/11, as Payan puts it, is “the perception of intentionality,” that “this is not someone coming to take a job, but someone who will harm America.”(http://www.alternet.org/story/41968/what_the_war_on_terror_has_done_to_texas/ )

Dr. Jamal Assad, of MPAC, the Houston Chapter of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, also had concerns:

This is a little bit scary here. If this act [is] adopted completely by INS the problem is going to be another military institute. What I mean by that is, if somebody for example violated his or her visa one or two days, instead of deporting him, they are going to handcuff him or her and put them in jail maybe one or two or three years under the so-called secret evidence and he or she may be completely innocent just because of visa violation. Leave the criminal behavior for the FBI, for the military, for the CIA and leave INS alone. (http://kpft.igc.org/news/090602story2.html)

This means that Congress strengthened future militarization of the border, based on the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” (post 9/11), which evolved into the mindset that the enemy is the Mexican immigrant.

So now we get to the issue here: what does this mean for documented and undocumented women from Mexico trying to come to the United States? Especially, now, since they are viewed as criminals simply for coming into the country?  Sylvanna Falcón has researched this topic. In her essay titled, “National Security and the Violation of Women.” A “weapon of war” used against women is rape. The tactic is meant to “dominate women and psychologically debilitate people viewed as the enemy.”  More specifically, the term is “national security rape” or “militarized border rape” (Falcón, INCITE!). Because of their illegal status, perceived or real, they are assaulted due to their lack of being recognized by the state as a person who belongs here. They are viewed as a security risk and a criminal and therefore, the male mentality shifts to forms of subduing, controlling and punishing this “enemy.”

Acts of sexual violence have been occurring along the U.S.-Mexico border since colonialism imposed itself there in 1848.  This is a human rights violation that has continued since. As if it was not horrific enough undocumented women deal with the inevitable situation of rape so much they use birth control before their journey. Or that they are raped as a price for passage and the evidence of the crime is left behind in the form of “rape trees.” Now they face an even greater danger of being assaulted on “this side” of the border, thanks to Abbott’s idea that South Texas is somehow a war-torn, “third-world country” because of one case of corruption (I guess Governor Christie’s New Jersey should be invaded with nuclear weapons, according to his logic).  It is a real phenomenon. Women are already reporting being victimized, but reports are rare due to the “code of silence” amongst the perpetrators who commit these acts. Because of the code of silence culture, where men seldom report on other men for crimes they commit, rapes continue. Women from Mexico are primary targets on the U.S. side because they have the most to lose: their papers, their job from which they send money home, the fear of being deported and the lack of reporting the crime for fear of the charges not holding up. “The nonexistence of a standardized complaints form and appeals process are systematic and structural shortcomings that allow the INS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) to minimize the situation at the border” (Falcón, INCITE!).  This means women haven’t anyone to turn to when this happens to them.  “Dr. Falcón explains one possible reason this systematic abuse of women has gone unchecked for so long, ‘Our society takes rape seriously, but it doesn’t take this type of rape seriously. In all of our national discourse around securing our borders, rarely, if ever, do you hear about any kind of protection for people who might be crossing. Largely, that’s because the discussion has been framed around protecting us—protecting the U.S.—and once you get into that framework, what happens to the other person is not even on the radar.’” (http://usopenborders.com/2011/12/the-steep-price-of-immigration-for-latin-american-women/) They are left, in what I can only surmise as, in shambles, broken, with no help. And now with the lack of much needed women’s abortion healthcare gone along the Texas border, where are these women to go when they turn up pregnant?  Or who is going to pay for essential birth control in order to prevent pregnancy?

In every instance where war and conquest have taken place, it has been the women who pay the “rape-price” during these conflicts.  With Abbot using dog-whistle verbiage like “boots on the ground” and “surges” relating to the border, mixed in with the key LIC “third world” phrase, imagination is not something that I am running wild with when I say his intentions are clear: to more heavily militarize southern Texas as if it were enemy territory. This militarization of the border is specific to the U.S-Mexico line (as I do not see major militarization effort cluttered along the U.S. border to stop people from Toronto invading New York, using Lake Ontario). The problem with his comments is the hurt it represents and triggers for members of the border community and those familiar with these ongoing struggles. The rhetoric perpetuates the idea that the war isn’t to protect but to harm. Mexican immigrant women are the silent victims in this battle of words and it is imperative that it stop.

 

Works Cited:

Falcon, S. (2006). National security and the violation of women: Militarized border rape at the U.S. Mexico border. In The color of violence: INCITE! anthology (pp. 119-129). Cambridge, MA: South End Press.

(All other works cited in the essay or with hyperlinks)